The Breakfast Table

Boomer Segregation

Dear Kara,

Believe it or not, word of your splendid wedding had spread to the East Coast even before it took place. I heard about it last week from Rick Tetzeli, Fortune magazine’s hot young technology editor, who is also (I believe) a childhood friend of yours. In that lovably sardonic way of his, he described your impending nuptials as “the event of the season” in Silicon Valley. From your sweet account, it sounds like he wasn’t far off. I was deeply impressed, by the way, with your ability to recall the details of the affair–the main thing I remember about my wedding is what a blur it was. By the next day I could barely recall who was there, much less what they said to me. Here’s the good news: That was 20 years ago, and I’m still very happily married. I wish you the same.

It is, of course, ridiculous that there is political hay to be made by trying to prevent same-sex couples from adopting children. It makes sense only in the context of Republican presidential politics–that is, such extreme positions can rally the hard-core faithful who vote in primaries, and thus help a candidate gain the nomination, but will only be a curse once the general election rolls around.

But the truth is, though I’m a white, middle-aged hetero, I don’t understand the anti-gay forces any better than you do. One reason is that I live in Northampton, Mass., which has a very large lesbian community, and where tolerance is pretty much taken for granted. (Though not always: We had a terrible murder here last year, when a 15-year-old boy stabbed a 16-year-old boy on a downtown street. It later turned out that the killer had been taunted at school by the older boy because he was gay.)

But another reason, I think, is that baby boomers in particular have tended to segregate themselves along political lines as well as class and racial lines. I’ve lived, for instance, in Austin, Texas, Boston, and Washington, D.C., as well as Northampton. (I also lived in Paris for two years, but that’s a whole other story.) Although I was considered something of a lefty in Austin–and am now somewhat to the right of many of my liberal Northampton neighbors–I’ve always had more in common, politically and culturally, with my neighbors than not. There may well be large pockets of gay hatred in the land, but it’s not something I can gauge because I rarely see it in my daily life. So my impulse is to think, as you do, that despite the murder of Matthew Shepherd, that gay-bashing is fading. (The entertainment culture also buttresses this view.) But I also have to acknowledge that my isolation could be leading me very astray. After all, I am also utterly baffled by the extent to which Bill Clinton engenders so much rage in so many people. But obviously he does.

Anyway … before the week is out, I hope to engage you on your area of expertise: AOL, the Internet as a business and cultural phenomenon, IPO stock madess, and so on. Just for fun, though, check out the story in the New York Times sports section this morning about the Tom’s River Little League team winning its first game in the Little League World Series. I realize this is a real story for the Times–Tom’s River is in its circulation area, and the team is a powerhouse–but there was something awfully weird about the way the story was written, as if it were a big league game with big league ballplayers. (“[Casey] Gaynor again baffled the opposing team with a mix of control and raw power …”) Even the quote from star pitcher Gaynor sounded like something Roger Clemens might say. “I just wanted to throw strikes and make them hit the ball,” he told the man from the Times. Geez. The kid’s 12 years old.


p.s. where are you going on your honeymoon?